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NHL On Tap: Penguins visit Hurricanes, go for eighth straight win

Wild, Senators put streaks on line; red-hot Rangers seek revenge against Blackhawks @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from five games Sunday.

Penguins defying, Hurricanes matching expectations

I expected this to be a transition season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They decided to give it at least one more go with the core behind three Stanley Cup championships (2009, 2016, 2017) after blowing a 3-1 lead to the New York Rangers in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round and failing to escape the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four consecutive seasons. Instead, Pittsburgh (18-8-4) takes a seven-game winning streak (six in a row on the road) into Raleigh, North Carolina, against the Carolina Hurricanes (5 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, BSSO, ATTSN-PIT, ESPN+) and is part of a crowded playoff picture in the East approaching Christmas. The Penguins are 14-2-2 in their past 18 games with Tristian Jarry 10-0-2 in his past 12, the longest point streak by a Pittsburgh goalie since Marc-Andre Fleury (13-0-1) in 2010-11. Center Evgeni Malkin (11 points; two goals, nine assists in a seven-game run) is questionable after taking Sidney Crosby's slap shot off his knee Thursday, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday the preliminary prognosis was positive and "we're fortunate we dodged a bullet there." The Hurricanes (18-6-6) were projected to be elite and have been this season. They're 8-0-2 in their past 10 after Antti Raanta made 26 saves in a 5-4 home win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. -- Jon Lane, staff writer

Wild, Senators put streaks on the line

Winning streaks are on the line when the Minnesota Wild host the Ottawa Senators (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSN, BSWI, TSN5, RDS, SN NOW). The Wild (17-11-2) and Senators (14-14-2) have each won four straight following Ottawa's 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and Minnesota's 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. Minnesota has also won six straight at home. Wild forward Mats Zuccarello had a hat trick and an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (six goals, eight assists) on Friday. Alex DeBrincat has an eight-game point streak (three goals, 10 assists), including assists on the first three goals in Ottawa's win Saturday and on each goal in the Senators' 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. -- William Douglas, staff writer

Red-hot Rangers blow into Windy City

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 3. That was the night Rangers captain Jacob Trouba fought Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira after a big hit on Jason Dickinson in the second period, and later laid out Blackhawks forward Andreas Athanasiou with an open-ice hit in the neutral zone leading to a fight with Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in the third period. Trouba threw his gloves in frustration as he left the ice, fed up with his team and how it was playing what looked like emotionless hockey. That was the night it looked like the Rangers season was going off the rails. However, the Rangers (17-10-5) haven't lost since. They won their sixth straight game, 6-3 at the Philadelphia Flyers, on Saturday. The Blackhawks (7-18-4) haven't won since. They lost their sixth straight game, 4-1 to the Wild on Friday. The Rangers are in Chicago to play the Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN NOW). They got the message from their captain. They're playing with emotion, with fire, and now they're looking to exact a measure of revenge on the reeling Blackhawks for what happened at the Garden. It's a nationally televised "Original Six" matchup on a Sunday night with some recent bad blood between the teams. This one should be fun. -- Dan Rosen, senior writer

Sunday games

Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSN, BSWI, TSN5, RDS, SN NOW)

Ottawa forward Drake Batherson has three goals in his past five games, including two in the Senators' 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Minnesota forward Kirill Kaprizov has an 11-game point streak at home (six goals, 13 assists). 

Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes (5 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, BSSO, ATTSN-PT, ESPN+)

Penguins forward Jake Guentzel has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past nine games. Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 against Metropolitan Division opponents; Carolina is 5-1-0. Brent Burns is one point from 800 in the NHL after the Hurricanes defenseman had two assists in a 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Carolina is 4-0-0 in the second of a back to back this season. 

New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks (7:30 p.m.; ESPN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN NOW)

Goalie Igor Shesterkin is expected to start for the Rangers after Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves in a 6-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. New York is 10-4-1 on the road. Chicago is 3-15 in games decided by two goals or more and 4-18-2 when their opponent scores first.

Winnipeg Jets at Seattle Kraken (8 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, TSN3, ESPN+, SN NOW)

Forward Kyle Connor has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in an eight-game point streak for Winnipeg (20-9-1), which is 9-3-0 in its past 12 games. Seattle (16-10-3) returns home following a 1-3-0 East Coast road trip. Kraken forward Yanni Gourde has four points (one goal, three assists) in a three-game point streak.

Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, SNW, ESPN+, SN NOW)

The Flames (13-12-6) are 0-2-3 in their past five games and begin a four-game road trip, including consecutive games against the Sharks on Sunday and Tuesday. Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom is one game from 400 in the NHL. The Sharks (10-16-6) have points in four straight games (2-0-2) after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in a six-game point streak.

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